I first stumbled across SOD Gear when I was looking for a smock for winter wear. As I reviewed here, I'm a huge fan of their clothes, so when I went looking for a set of combat pants, naturally I ended up on their site again. While there are many manufacturers of combat pants in today's world, including Crye Precision, Tru-Spec, Propper, UF Pro, Helikon-Tek, Sabre, Applied Orange, and Molay, there were a few things I was looking for that led me to purchase the SOD Para One pants over the others.
First, the Para One pants minimize the use of hook and loop. While hook and loop has its place, it is noisy, gathers dirt, and tends to wear out fast. With their new uniform announcement, big Army has moved away from hook and loop as a method of closing pockets due to soldier complaints about the closures failing (the Coast Guard actually figured it out before the Army, and deleted hook and loop pocket closures after their first uniform redesign at least 7-8 years ago). In my years in, I've worn the BDU, ACU, ODU, and Crye Precision field and combat uniforms, and I still prefer buttons over hook and loop for most applications. Even better than the deletion of hook and loop is the use of the Canadian or NATO pattern buttons, which attach via a strip of webbing or fabric instead of the US method of attaching with only thread.
Second, the pants are reinforced in all the right areas. High stress areas such as the pockets, belt loops, knees, and leg hem are all reinforced with Cordura nylon.
Third, the pants are cut more form fitting. This is both a good and bad feature, but I think it weighs more heavily toward the good. As an American, I am used to the very baggy BDU and ACU. While it is very comfortable for low-stress wearing, excess material can present problems as well, including snagging and bunching. Plus, for me, the standard BDU can be constrictive when kneeling or lifting my legs high. This would seem counter-intuitive, but that's my observation. With the tighter fitting pant, I feel like I actually have a larger range of motion. The tighter fit does take some getting used to, though. For one thing, the crotch just feels different. It was never uncomfortable, I didn't experience any pinching, but it just feels a little different. This also changes the sizing a little bit, but mostly the pants are true to size.
Fourth, the kneepads are well executed. The pants come equipped with soft knee pads, which fit inside a hook and loop closed, Cordura reinforced pocket. Due to the athletic cut of the pants, I found that the knee pads stayed right where they needed to through-out the range of motion.
Overall, these are some outstanding pants. I personally like them better than the Crye pants I had previously been issued. Customer service was also outstanding. I corresponded via email due to the time difference, but all of my questions (especially sizing) were answered quickly and to my complete satisfaction. Some other features of the pants include a hidden pocket inside the waistband for E&E items, and padding in the waistband so that you can wear equipment on your pants belt without the need for any additional padding. Also, the belt loops are big enough that you can run a belt with Cobra buckle through with ease.
The Para One pants come in 11 different colors in 50/50 NYCO or Cotton, depending on the color, and can be purchased at http://www.sodgear.com/product-detail/en/sod-combat-line-para-one-pants-12-hcs.